By Julie Daniels
Friday, September 4, 2009
November ballots will not offer anything close to gender parity in candidates. To change that, help the Women's Campaign Forum ask 500 women to run for some of the country's 500,000 elected positions.
(WOMENSENEWS)--We're on the brink of the off-year general election in many states, such as New York, New Jersey and Virginia.
The ballots in states like these will prove to be disappointing in terms of gender parity on the roster of candidates.
Today, women make up only 17 percent of Congress and 24 percent of state legislative offices.
There are more than 500,000 elected positions in the United States, according to the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University in New Jersey. For political representation to mirror the female (more than) half of the population, women should hold at least 250,000 of these positions. But only a fraction are held by women.
One big reason for this is that far fewer women than men run for office.
But there is something we can all do: Look around and encourage a woman to run. Don't do it once or twice. Muster others and tell them four or five times. Do it now.
You can ask the women in your life to run for office through the She Should Run program.
In the month of September, we need help spreading the word about this effort and meeting our goal of asking 500 women to run for public office through our program.
Use our online tool at the end of this article and ask a woman to run for office today.
She Should Run is an award-winning program of The Women's Campaign Forum that uses online communities to ask women to consider running for public office. We then send the woman your encouraging comments and invite her to join the She Should Run program.
She Should Run members are urged to lay the groundwork for a successful run at all levels of public office--from school boards to Congress--regardless of political party.
How it works: After you ask a woman to run for office, the Women's Campaign Forum invites her to join the program and receive resources and information to make an informed decision about running for office.
She Should Run members receive a copy of the Women's Campaign Forum handbook, "The Companion Notebook: Making the Decision to Serve," monthly newsletters about running for office, access to the organization's network and guidance through our endorsement process when they decide to run for office. We also help members find training programs in their areas.
We have found that female legislators are 50 percent more likely than their male counterparts to pull people together, get people involved and build issue-based coalitions. Fifty-nine percent of committees chaired by women--versus 48 percent for male-chaired committees--are rated above average for inclusivity and power-sharing.
So more women means more democracy.
Also, female legislators are more likely to introduce legislation related to topics traditionally viewed as "women's issues," pertaining to rape, teen pregnancy, pay equality, day care and domestic violence.
In August, the Women's Campaign Forum attended Netroots Nation in Pittsburgh and connected with progressive activists from across the country who pledged to blog, tweet and talk about this topic, as well as, most importantly, ask women to run.
Many She Should Run members have never considered running for office before, but they are now.
Whether it takes two months or five years, the Women's Campaign Forum is committed to encouraging these women to make the decision to run for office by demystifying the process and serving as the conduit for all the great tools and resources available across the country.
So far this month over 250 women have been asked to run--let's get that number up to at least 500 by the end of September.
Julie Daniels manages operations and marketing of the award-winning She Should Run program. She also assists with outreach and management of the Women's Campaign Forum PAC endorsement program, Fellowship Program and Next Generation program. Julie is a recent graduate of Salem College, where she majored in Not-for-Profit Management and International Relations.
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